10 films that prove how much drama you can get out of a single location

As Orson Welles supposedly said, the enemy of art is the absence of limitations - and there are plenty of great films that are, just like us right now, confined to one setting. So here’s a bit of inspiration for any budding filmmakers out there: a list of our fave films that mostly stick to one location, give or take the odd scene.

See if you can recognise the first six by their setting alone:


Films in one location


Films in one location


Films in one location


Films in one location


Films in one location


Films in one location

And the answers are...

1. The Breakfast Club: the library

Proof that you don’t need helicopter shots or an international location budget if you have five teenagers, some good old-fashioned angst and a killer soundtrack to hand.
Fun location fact: the school they shot The Breakfast Club in (same school as Ferris Bueller!) didn’t have a library big enough so they built a larger one... in the gym. Guess the nerds won this one after all.

2. Reservoir Dogs: the warehouse

Sure there are some scenes away from the warehouse but they’re all flashbacks; cut that stuff out and you’ve pretty much got yourself a one-location film.
Fun location fact: The warehouse was sadly torn down after filming; it’s now a car park.

3. Alien: the Nostromo

All you need to film a space adventure is a spaceship - and, err, the vastness of space. Most of the film was shot in studios around London, but a bedroom will probably do just as well.
Fun location fact: Ridley Scott was concerned that exterior shots of the Nostromo didn’t look big enough - so he used his kids as stand ins for the regular actors.

4. Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza

Most of the film takes place in one building - ok, so it’s got 35-storeys, stairwells, elevator shafts, pipe shafts, empty offices, furnished offices and a roof...and we just have a bathroom and a front porch to work with...BUT STILL.
Fun location fact: The office block that “played” Nakatomi Plaza is in fact the HQ for 20th Century Fox in LA.

5. Ex Machina: billionaire’s house

Where better to build your AI robot than in a remote mansion? If you’ve got natural scenery this good, you don’t need more than a couple of locations.
Fun location fact: Although Ex Machina is set in Alaska, it was filmed in Norway - and you can actually stay at the mansion, given that it’s an award-winning hotel (the Juvet Landscape Hotel).

6. The Shining: the Overlook Hotel

Once the Torrances check in to the Overlook, they really don’t check out. Well, not until they “check out” anyway.
Fun location fact: Kubrick moved to the UK in the 60s and the vast majority of his films were shot here - even those set in Vietnam, Manhattan and outer space (it’s often said that this was because he had a fear of flying). Most of the interior shots of The Shining’s Overlook Hotel were filmed on sets constructed at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire.

7. Rear Window: Jimmy’s flat

If you’re stuck at home with nothing but a window for entertainment then you better hope for neighbours as suss as Jimmy Stewart’s in Rear Window.
Fun location fact: The Hitchcock classic was shot entirely at Paramount Studios, in an enormous indoor set designed to look like a Greenwich Village courtyard (it was even fitted with its own sophisticated drainage system). Of its 31 apartments, 12 were fully furnished.
Films in one location

8. 12 Angry Men: the deliberation room

Most of this judicial drama takes place in just one room, where the 12 angry men of the jury duke it out to come to a verdict.
Fun location fact: Shooting a film in a single room means you can’t have people moving about too much, so to make the film a bit more visually interesting, director Sidney Lumet decided to move the camera around instead. He wrote: "I shot the first third of the movie above eye level, shot the second third at eye level, and the last third from below eye level. In that way, toward the end, the ceiling began to appear. Not only were the walls closing in, the ceiling was as well. The sense of increasing claustrophobia did a lot to raise the tension of the last part of the movie."
Films in one location

9. Clerks: the store

Almost every scene of Kevin Smith’s debut takes place in the Quick Stop where the hapless clerks work.
Fun location fact: Smith was actually working at this (100% real) convenience store during production - and they could only shoot in the store when it was closed, from 10:30pm to 5:30am.
Films in one location

10. The One I Love: a beautiful cottage getaway

A troubled couple vacate to a beautiful getaway. The end. Nothing else to see here - certainly not any doppelgangers or anything bizarre to worry about...
Fun location fact: In real life, the house actually belongs to Ted Danson, who plays the couple’s counsellor in the film.
Films in one location